Venice, Monday morning, June 17, 2013

venice 208Before breakfast my roomie and I walked to the St. Mark’s bell tower for the Change, as both of us had expected to be able to charge more, and hadn’t brought enough cash.  To change about $113, which worked out to €85.00, I got hit with Commissione of 6.89% and Spese Euro (Expenses) €8.90 for a total of €14.76 ($20.88!!!) so I only got €70.24 in cash.  For Non-ATM Cash from my Chase debit card, I got charged $4.16 and another $5.00 For a Non-ATM Cash Fee.  So to change the money, I got hit with more than $30.  I would recommend that you take enough cash if you go to Italy.

venice 458Francesca Ferrarini, our guide for the Biennale, arrived in a Missoni knit dress.  She works as an independent art advisor, buying art for wealthy clients.  Lives in Verona, trained as an architect. She is also the one who had really worked with C, M, Bruno, and J in determining which venues we should visit during the trip.  Her parents have a villa in Verona; they’re one of the most prominent families there.  (Their living room was originally a chapel.)

(Next to her, Zak Timan, the son of one of the couples in our group, at 27, the youngest artist represented, whose work we will see this afternoon.  He shows up twice with his art in the Video Vernissage on the Glasstress website listed below.)

A vernissage (varnishing, from French) is a term used for a preview of an art exhibition, which may be private, before the formal opening.  

We walked to Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti (built in 1565) for Glasstress 2013 White Light | White Heat, which has its own Facebook page1, as well as a website, (which I used to spell all of the names correctly and for a sentence or two about the artists).

Based on the historic glass culture of Murano, the impulse of Glasstress is to break glasswork free from its stereotypes; to re-place it within the global culture of contemporary art.2

We are all dripping from our walk.

venice 463These outdoor works are Luminosa, and behind it to the left, Bright, by Ursula von Rydingsvard (70 years old, born in Germany, a sculptor who has been working in Brooklyn, New York for the past 30 years).   PBS did a segment on her and her huge wood sculptures, but I couldn’t find anything on how she did these glass sculptures:

There are four galleries who are exhibiting Glasstress, in Murano and Venice, with 65 artists participating, their only requirement be that their work be in glass.

In 1802 Napolean founded Istituto Nazionale,  renamed the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in 1810.  The Institute was moved to this palace, Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, in 1999.

venice 466paladinoItalian Mimmo Paladino’s The Dowsing (reminds me of his sculpture in Sorrento – photo from the Web).

venice 507The bronze head, Rui Rui, seven-meters tall, by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa (who did the digital faces on the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park in Chicago3), outside the palazzo, couldn’t be done in glass.  (I don’t understand the title, which in Japanese means in heaps, and has its own manga, a Japanese genre of cartoons, comic books, and animated films.)

But he also did Blake in Venice, random lines from William Blake’s  Proverbs of Hell:
venice 487
The soul of sweet delight…
The best wine is the oldest, the best water the newest.
The head Sublime…
Truth can never be told so as to be … believ’d.
Enough! or Too much!

Seamlessly suspended before the sunlight, and acting like a blind to the window, the piece focuses the viewer’s attention on the interior of the building, without obstructing the glorious views over the canal. At certain points of the day, the glass letters cast shadows that make the words of William Blake readable from the wooden floor. …this piece in particular accentuates the impressive, yet fragile qualities of the glass medium.4

venice 467venice 551A glass shutter by Miroslaw Balka, a famous contemporary Polish sculptor, and the actual shutter in Murano he copied.

John Isaacs’ Let the Golden Age Begin, an old wagon full of glass balloons, possibly from Beck Hansen’s song by the same name.venice-505

Put your hands on the wheel
Let the golden age begin
Let the window down
Feel the moonlight on your skin…

venice 469Brings to mind Dale Chihuly’s balls of art glass that float.

A Ukrainian artist, Oksana Mas’ Quantum prayer (right), molten glass poured over an engine.  The pouring was a Glasstress event; check out the video on the Glasstress web site5.

venice 470

Alice Anderson is a French/British citizen, living and working in London.  She has 30 performers who made these Crystal Time Units (below) with copper thread as performance art.    venice 472The video is here:  This gives you an idea:

venice 473Zhan Wang is a Chinese artist living and working in Beijing.  His Scholar’s Rocks are glass bound in steel.  (Lucca is our guide, dressed in a white T-shirt, white jeans, white tennies.)

venice 474Michael Joo is a Korean-American.  His  Dissembled (version 2) is a mass of Plexiglas riot-police shields, inspired by history:

He returned to Gwangju last year with “Indivisible,’’ an installation built around clay sculptures and transparent, riot- police shields. It garnered attention because it doubled as a tribute to the city’s past, epitomized by the 1980 Gwangju Massacre, Chun Doo- hwan’s brutal crackdown on demonstrations against his military junta proved to be a turning point in Korea’s democracy movement. 6

venice 475This is Paul Fryer’s, a London based artist, Nebula, made from a vacuum pump, computer, aluminum plate, electronic valves, borosilicate glass dome, aluminum platinum form, and piano polished case, part of The Electric Sky.  Check out the video:

Electric Sky explores the hugely controversial theory that our sun is not a thermonuclear reaction but rather a super-massive electrode in a universe composed of an inconceivably gargantuan electrical grid7.

venice 476Mat Collishaw is another London based artist.  His East of Eden has a beautiful black glass foliage mirror frame, a spy mirror, LCD screen and hard drive with a snake video that appears and then fads out.  One web site said that…

Collishaw renders nightmarish horrors with a startling formal elegance.

I thought that sounded like something we’d seen in Verona, and sure enough, we had seen his Preternatural – photos of burning butterflies8.

fingersI hadn’t realized that Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Glass Narcissus was a shadow sculpture, so I had to decrease the contrast on my photo to show the shadow.  The Murano glass sculpture is an amalgam of fingers and penises.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)  Guess the fingers are hers and the penises are his?

There is a glass hammock, Rest of the Incoherent, 2,500 glass beads, made one by one, strung on steel wire, by Loris Cecchini, an Italian artist based in Prato and Berlin.  (I had to show a large photo so that you can see the details.)

venice 479

His work explores the meeting of nature and man-made materials resulting in works that are often delicately made, yet awesome in size.

venice 481Aldo Mondino’s Juggler.  (I am translating the titles).  He had been known for his sugar, caramel and chocolate art, so I was surprised to see a fruit.  (He died in 2005.)

venice 482Whitney McVeigh is an Amer- ican artist who lives and works in London.  solitude a breath away consists of an antique baby carriage full of used breast pumps (and 60 new ones that she made).  Guess what – she had just had a baby!

Her work explores the physical and psychological elements of the human condition.

venice 484Joana Vasconcelos was born in Paris and lives and works in Lisbon.  Babylon is a Murano glass, handmade woolen crochet, ornaments and polyester 3-meter-tall chandelier.

…she often uses hand-made textiles and knitting in site-specific installations.

venice 483She and the curator Miguel Amado created the Portugal pavilion in the Biennale this year, from a Lisbon ferry, ferrytransformed into a floating pavilion and artwork.  We did not see it, but this interior photo from the Web gives you an idea.

venice 486JavierPerezBasque artist Javier Pérez’s The Night Journey, a glass pillow, doesn’t begin to represent all of his various works, but you can see more at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  Here’s his self-portrait.

(This Carrion, which was in the 2011 show, I think is more representative of his work.)Carroña

The spectator walks alongside blood-red splinters of glass that are spread over the floor and reaches a broken chandelier. On top of it black ravens, vulture-like, seem to disembowel it. This scenery awakens in us the idea of glamour and wealth coming to an end, like a motionless animal turns into something dead.9

venice 488venice 490Belgian artist Koen Van mechelen’s Under My Skin-C.C.P.  His Cosmo- politan Chicken venice 491Project is interesting.  He’s working on DNA for a super chicken.  This coat is chicken feathers (of course).  Love the chicken with its glass face and feet.  There is also a glass-framed drawing of his favorite chicken.   The mirror is half black, half clear, as his chickens are cross breeds.  Here Vanmechelen gives a TED talk on his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project:

venice 485venice 489





Rina Banerjee is an Indian-born, New York-based artist.  In the Darkest Blossom was a Mythical Beast, Mythical Island, Mythical Sea is made from glass, steel, shells, feather and plastic.  I believe that all of the continents are shown in glass.

Banerjee has called her practice an examination of diasporas and journeys, “specific colonial moments that reinvent place and identity.” Synthesizing mythology, religion, anthropology, and fairy tales, she is equally informed by Western culture and Eastern tradition, particularly Tibetan, Himalayan, and Indian art.10

venice 492
venice 493The Recycle Group is made up of the artists Andrey Blokhin and Georgiy Kuznetsov, both born in Russia.  Loved their Column, Series “Future Archeology”, made from acrylic, glass and rubber, which looks like metal.  But that doesn’t explain the light which seems to come from within.

venice 499Cai Guo-Qiang is a contemporary Chinese artist based in New York.  His Full-Body Scan: Next! has both a room full of mannequins with glass suicide bomber vests (the explosives, detonators, wires, and shrapnel in the glass pockets are created from spurious odds and ends posing as the genuine), and what appears to be an airport body scanner.

venice 498venice 497







After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Cai Guo-Qiang produced a series of daring works as a response.
9/11 changed people’s lives, treating everyone as a potential bomber. Before boarding flights or entering government buildings, everyone—must now remove their jackets and shoes and empty their pockets to pass through the metal detector gate. This is then followed by a pat-down, and a full-body scan.
A slideshow is projected from behind the vest, showing people of different ethnicity, gender, and attire, each raising their arms with somber facial expressions, as if going through full-body scanners. Behind the metal-detector gate, a queue of mannequins, old and young, men and women, all wearing glass suicide bomber’s vest, wait to go through the full-body scanner to be examined under the fierce, X-ray-like scrutiny of the audience.
At the opening reception on May 31st, semi-nude models wearing the glass suicide bomber’s vests and nonchalantly wandered in Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti, mingling with opening guests.

Under Videos on the Glasstress web site, you can see his interview, but not the performance of topless models wearing his vests with lit candles.  It is here, however, on youtube (from which the quote above was taken):

Originally born in Israel, Ron Arad lives and works in London.  He is a famous designer and architect.

‘Last Train’ is based on an image which he has ingrained in his head.  During a trip to Naples, Arad had arrived at the station platform to catch his train out of the city at which time he saw a man in the departing locomotive-completely absorbed in his own self-reflection–etching drawings into the glass window of his compartment.

‘Last Train’ is an interactive work in he has designed a Steinmetz [who commissioned the work] diamond ring which features the precious stones in an ‘X’ formation. a cast of Arad’s fist wearing the hand jewelry pokes through a black cloth and is set in front of a piece of glass. Arad invited a number of artists to create a work on an iPad with a stylus using the ‘last train’ app.

In return the ring has scratched their illustration onto the glass, echoing their every stroke and illuminating their markings. On the May 29th opening, Ron Arad and Javier Mariscal engaged in a live drawing performance, while Ai Weiwei scratched in remotely from Beijing [as he wasn’t allowed to leave China].11

venice 502venice 501venice 503Shown here: the cast of Arad’s fist with the diamond ring scratching the glass, Portrait of My Blind Husband by Tim Noble and Sue Webster, using an iPad with a stylus to draw, Arad’s portrait.

He’s done some pretty nice designing (Atelier Notify, Milan, Duomo Hotel – interior refurbishment, Rimini, Maserati Showroom, Modena, all in Italy, and many in other countries), but the design_museum_holononly building that I could find was the Holon Design Museum in Israel, which is pretty incredible.

We now go to Murano.  That will be the next blog.



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